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life, we do, by a necessary efficiency, gradually sink ourselves into the state of the damned. For I have proved at large, that there is something of heaven and hell in the very nature of each particular virtue and vice, and that in the perfection of these two opposite qualities consists the main happiness and misery of those two opposite states. From whence it will necessarily follow, that as in the practice of the one or the other we grow more virtuous or vicious; so proportionably we rise up towards heaven, or sink down towards hell, by a fatal tendency of nature.

The truth of which is not only acknowledged by the generality of Christian writers, but also by the best and wisest of the heathen philosophers; though this, I think, is the first attempt that hath been made to derive the heavenly and the hellish states from the nature of the particular virtues and vices. I pray God, that what I have said may but engage some more skilful pen in the prosecution of this noble argument.

. For I know nothing in the world that can be more effectual to engage men to be substantially religious, to take them off from hypocrisy and formality, from all presumptuous hopes and false dependencies, than their being throughly convinced of this truth, that the eternal happiness or misery of souls is founded in their virtue or vice; and that there is as inseparable a connexion between grace and glory, sin

, and hell, as there is between fire and heat, frost and cold, or any other necessary cause and its effect. For if they were but throughly persuaded of this, they would easily discern what wretched nonsense it is, to think of going to heaven, or escaping hell, whilst they continue in any wilful course of disobedience to the laws of virtue.

Having thus treated at large of the first sort of means by which the end of our Christian life is to be obtained, I proceed, in the fourth chapter, which is the largest of all, to give an account of the second, viz. the instrumental duties of Christianity, which are enjoined us as means subservient to our practice, acquisition, and improvement of those heavenly virtues, in the perfection whereof our chief happiness consists. And for the more distinct handling of these, I have considered men under a threefold state, with respect to the Christian life; first, as entering into it; secondly, as actually engaged in it; thirdly, as perfecting and improving themselves by perseverance in it: to each of which I have appropriated such of the instrumental duties as I conceive did more especially belong to them. It is true, some of the duties here treated of are not purely instrumental, but of a mixed nature; such as faith, prayer, actual dedication of our good works to God, &c. which are essential parts of divine worship, and, as such, do belong to those divine virtues, the perfection whereof makes a principal part of the everlasting happiness of souls. But here I have considered them only as means and instruments in the use of which we are to acquire and perfect those beatifical virtues. And of this sort of means I do not remember any one particular recommended in holy scripture, but what hath been here treated of. Upon some indeed I have insisted much more briefly than upon others, because I find them already largely accounted for in other practical books, and especially in those two excellent treatises above named; but those which they either cursorily touch, or take no no tice of at all, I thought myself obliged to give a larger account of.

From the whole, I would recommend to the pious reader the consideration of the admirable structure and contrivance of the practical part of Christianity, which, having proposed to us an end so great and sublime, and so highly worthy of our most vigorous prosecutions, hath also furnished us with such choice and effectual means of all sorts to attain it. The consideration of which would be in itself a great inducement to me to believe Christianity a divine religion, though I were utterly unacquainted with its external evidence and motives of credibility. For it can never enter into my head, that such a rare and exquisite contrivance to make men good and happy could ever owe its original to the mere invention of a carpenter's son, and a company of illiterate fishermen. Especially considering how far it excels the moral precepts even of those divine philosophers who believed a future state of a blessed immortality, and exercised their best wit in prescribing rules to guide and direct men thither.

And having given this large account of the instrumental duties of the Christian life, and also enforced the several divisions of them with proper arguments and motives, I thought fit to add a fifth chapter, wherein I have given some rules for the more profitable reading of this practical discourse, and also some general directions for the exercise of our private religion, in all the different states of the Christian life, together with certain forms of private devotion, fitted for each state. In which I have supposed, what I doubt is a very deplorable truth, viz. that the generality of Christians, after their initiation by baptism into the public profession of Christianity, are so unhappy as to be seduced, either through bad example or education, into a vicious state of life; and that consequently from thence they must take their first start into the thorough practice of Christianity. Not that I make the least doubt, but that there are a great many excellent Christians, who, by the blessing of God upon their pious education, have been secured from this calamity, and trained up from their infancy under a prevailing sense of God and religion; and therefore for such as these, as there is no need of that solemn method of repentance, prescribed in the first section of the fourth chapter, so neither is there of those first penitential prayers in this fifth chapter, which is accommodated to that state. For these persons have long since been actually engaged in the Christian life, and, as it is to be supposed, have made considerable improvements in it, and therefore as they are only concerned in the duties of the second and third states of the Christian life, so they are only to use the prayers which are fitted to those states, which, with some variation of those phrases which suppose the past course of our life to have been vicious, they may easily accommodate to their own condition. But the design of this discourse is not only to conduct them onwards in their way, who have already entered upon the Christian life, but also to reduce those to

it, who have been so unhappy as to wander into vicious courses; or rather, though it serves both purposes, it is wholly designed for the same persons, viz. to seek and bring back those lost sheep who have strayed from the paths of Christian piety and virtue, and then to lead them on, through all the intermediate stages, to the happy state of immortal pleasures at the end of them. And now, if what hath been said should, by the blessing of God, obtain its designed effect upon any person, I ask no other requital for

I all the pains it hath cost me, but his earnest prayers to God for me, that after

my best endeavours to guide and direct him to heaven, I may not fall short of it myself.

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